We are officially in the holiday season! If you're anything like me, you tend to get a little overzealous when it comes to the holidays and want every gathering and event to be perfect, from the food to the drinks. So, I thought I'd lend a hand with your planning process and share some of my favorite wines for the holidays that your guests will love.
Here are my top wines for the holidays:
While Champagne may be the first thing you think of, let me show you some other amazing options to try this holiday season. Don't worry, they can all be used for your holiday mimosa!
For something elegant and sophisticated, try Cremants. Cremants are sparkling wines from France that are made the same way as Champagne but made with different grapes and in different regions throughout France. I personally recommend Cremant de Loire! The two main grape varieties used in Cremant de Loire are Chenin and Cabernet Franc, giving it a very unique flavor and a nice switch up from regular Champagne.
Another excellent option would be Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. Cava is simply delicious! It falls somewhere in the middle between dry Champagne and sweet Prosecco. It’s generally less acidic than Champagne and has a complex and intense flavor. Depending on how long it has been aged, it may have a fruit-forward taste with strong notes of citrus.
And, of course, you could always stick with Champagne. It’s a classic after all! I really enjoy the Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs.
Riesling is the perfect food friendly wine to go with nearly all your favorite dishes! The coolest thing about Riesling is that it can range in sweetness, body, and flavor.
Looking for something to go with your cornbread stuffing? Go for a light bodied, dry style of Riesling with notes of minerality. Need something to pair with your charcuterie board full of meats, cheeses, dried fruit, and jam? Choose an off-dry Riesling with more fruit flavor. And of course, if you have a sweet dish for dessert, pair that with a sweet Riesling with notes of honey.
The important thing is to match sweetness with sweetness. The more sugar/sweetness in your dish, the more sugar should be in your Riesling. Look at the ABV (alcohol percentage) of your Riesling to give you a hint as to how sweet the wine will be. Lower ABV (<10%) typically means sweeter while higher ABV (>11.5%) typically signifies a dryer Riesling.
A couple of my favorite Rieslings for this holiday season are the Yamhill Carlton Riesling, and Simes Vineyard Riesling.
Onto my favorite fall wine: Gamay! This wine is great for the holiday dinner table.
When it comes to red wine, some of the most food friendly options tend to be light to medium bodied. The reason for this is that when pairing wine and food we want each component to balance the other. We don't want the wine overpowering the food or vice versa. Unless you enjoy a big meaty steak for your holiday meal (in which case, can I come to your place?), you're going to want to stay away from anything full bodied and bold in flavor.
If you're anything like me and spend a good amount of time preparing all the delicious food, you certainly don't want the wine to overpower it. Gamay is the perfect sidekick to your hard work! Lighter bodied, medium to high acidity, with notes of cherry, raspberry, flowers, and earth this wine will pair just as well with a braised turkey as it will with nearly any vegetable dish.
You can stick with a traditional Beaujolais (from France) or try something new and unique like a sparkling rosé edition from Oregon!
A couple of my favorites are the Côte de Brouilly Les Cailoux, Domaine Frederic Sornin Morgan "Les Charmes” and a Sparkling Gamay Rosé.
Chenin Blanc is one of my favorite wines to introduce people to around the holidays. Whether you're typically a buttery Chardonnay drinker or high acid Riesling drinker, there's a Chenin Blanc out there for you. I've found that even red wine lovers enjoy a glass of Chenin Blanc due to it's intense flavor profile.
Just like Riesling, Chenin Blanc can be produced at different sweetness levels. My favorite are dryer styles from California, Washington and of course: France!
If you're looking for a Chenin Blanc from France, head to the Loire Valley. To make it even easier, here are nine regions that will be on the label of the bottle that tell you the wine is made with Chenin:
A Chenin Blanc I would definitely recommend is that by Final Girl. Final Girl is a small family owned/operated wine boutique based out of California. Because why not support a small winery this holiday season?!
The ultimate holiday wine that I think should be on everyone's dinner table this holiday season is...Cabernet Franc!
This wine ticks all the boxes when it comes to pairing red wine with food for the holidays:
Plus, Cabernet Franc is definitely a grape that not everyone has tried so it's always fun to introduce people to new things.
I might be a bit obsessed with this grape right now, but that just means I'll have lots of recommendations for you! Just like with Chenin, you'll want to head to the Loire Valley in France for some great Cabernet Franc. You can also find it blended with Merlot in Bordeaux. The US is definitely catching on to this delicious grape and there are some great examples from New York, Virginia, Washington, and Oregon.
My personal recommendations are Château de Brézé Saumur Clos Tue-Loup,
Horton Tower Series Cabernet Franc, Domaine Grosbois Chinon, and Echolands Poet-Nat Sparkling.
With all of the hustle and bustle that comes with this time of year, it can be easy to get lost in the planning process. Hopefully this guide can help you to at least know you have the wine covered! Check out my Instagram and check out my Holiday Wine Guide for yourself, and to be extra prepared for this season, grab my Holiday Gift Guide, which covers all the best gifts to get the wine lover (or yourself!) this holiday season!